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Cooper, White & Cooper LLP officially established its Green Practice Group based on 30 years of representing clients in this capacity. The seven-member group, drawing from the firm’s deep bench of talent and expertise in environmental, land use, real estate and construction law, will be led by Walnut Creek-based partners Kristen Thall Peters and Dee A. Ware.

Ware is one of the few attorneys nationwide certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP) by the U.S. Green Building Council. As a LEED AP, she possesses an understanding of green building practices and principles and familiarity with LEED requirements, resources and processes necessary to assist clients in navigating the certification process and many rapidly emerging government regulations. The Green Practice Group counsels companies on compliance with sustainable business practices. Issues addressed extend to global climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, green building, development, leasing, operation and management of sustainable projects, regulatory compliance, government relations and public policy formation, and litigation.

“We have essentially been practicing ‘green’ law for many years – starting 30 years ago with a still-current client that converts landfill gas to power. The group is comprised of the finest lawyers in the industry,” said Cooper, White & Cooper’s Managing Partner Mark Schreiber. “The new platform allows us to pool our resources and expertise internally to the maximum benefit of our clients, and we are deeply committed to meeting their needs in the face of increasing public concern and regulatory attention to combating global warming and in response to the rising demand for sustainable business practices and green building.”

Peters, a 15-year veteran, practices real estate, land use and environmental law. She develops corporate environmental programs and counsels clients in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and on the array of laws and regulations pertaining to air and water quality, hazardous substances, flow control, e-waste and recycling issues. In addition to her day job, Peters recently received a “Green Lifestyle” award from the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority for her personal dedication to sustainable living.

“Companies need to be prepared to address the realities of global warming because the issue has risen to the forefront of national and state agendas,” said Peters. “For many years, we have been an industry leader in counseling clients through these inevitable issues, and I am thrilled to be utilizing this collective expertise in response to the growing demand for ’green’ legal services among California businesses.”

Ware is a construction and real estate litigator. She counsels clients at all stages of the green building process on issues that include management of design and construction teams, implementation of risk management strategies and advocacy of client interests in the event that a dispute arises concerning design, construction, certification, operation or purchase and sale of a green project. “Green building is here to stay,” said Ware. “An increasing number of municipalities are grappling with sustainable building mandates for public and private projects. Financial incentives and health and productivity benefits have contributed to an explosive growth in green building in the commercial sector. In the residential market, recent projections estimate that as many as 50 percent of the homes constructed in 2010 will be green.”

Also joining the Green Practice Group is Derek Ridgway. Ridgway is a real estate partner in Walnut Creek who advises owners, commercial real estate executives, general contractors and design professionals in all aspects of the construction and capital improvement process, including sustainable building and design, renewable energy, “green” management and LEED certification.

Other members from the Walnut Creek office include: Keith Howard, a 30-year senior partner entrenched in environmental regulatory proceedings at the federal, state and local levels; Kathleen Carpenter, a partner and complex real estate and construction attorney for the home building industry; and Mark Warnke, a partner and environmental lawyer who counsels clients on regulatory compliance, including those involving the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Proposition 65. San Francisco-based real estate partner Beau Simon is also a member of the group. Simon counsels landlords and tenants through the purchase, sale and leasing of commercial properties and has experience in all aspects of real property development, including the development of “green lease” agreements.

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